Date: Sunday, February 14, 2016
Weather: Sun and clouds, -42 Celsius in the morning / -15 degrees Celsius at midday
I shifted in my sleeping bag to free my arm from layers of down and polyester. By the light of Indiglo™ my watch told me it was two in the morning. My bladder told me it was time to go. I sighed. That last cup of Egyptian licorice tea before bed had done me in. My three companions snored and shifted while I wriggled out of my bag shivering and chattering in the night air.
“Damn, the stove is almost out,” I thought. “It’ll have to wait.”
I sat at the end of my sleeping bag, traded my down booties for snow boots, fumbled for my headlamp, threw on my coat and stumbled to my feet. The muscles of my back and hips were unimpressed with sleeping on the ground, no matter how many pieces of insulation I had between me and the snow. I unzipped the tent door and ducked out, gasping as I exited. The dry Arctic air had blasted into Algonquin Park since bedtime and knocked the breath out of my lungs. I brushed frost off my eyelashes, turned on my headlamp and made my way through trodden snow to a brush of white pine where I silenced my bladder.
As soon as my mitts and pants were back in place I looked up. The frigid air cleared out any moisture left in the atmosphere and the stars twinkled at me. With a small wave of gratitude I trundled back into the tent to stoke the fire, sleepily going about my business and not realizing I was camping in one of the coldest spots on Earth.
No one slept particularly well nor warmly overnight. Again with such frigid temperatures to start the day, the stove was slow to warm up enough to make breakfast. In fact it was pretty well lunchtime by the time we slurped our first sips coffee.
We gathered more wood to carry us through dinner and the overnight, then decided to head east on the rail trail to stretch our legs and take in the progressively warmer afternoon. We followed the wolf tracks for a ways, speculating on where he might be. I laughed at how often he marked trees – not so different from my Wheaten terrier in some regards. We examined the dam between two lakes. And when the sun sunk a little lower in the sky, we wandered back to the Snowtrekker to fire up the stove and get started on making dinner – balsamic eggplant and lemon chicken over pasta.
We chatted and told stories, huddled near the stove to stay warm, before settling into our sleeping bags for the night.
For more on this winter weekend getaway, follow the trip report here.